Two years ago Microsoft released the Surface Book, a laptop/tablet hybrid that we found to be a solid (albeit pricey) notebook, with the added cherry of a short-burst tablet mode. Now the company is launching the Surface Book 2, packing up to five times more power than the original, an extended battery life, a bigger screen and Windows Mixed Reality support.
The Surface Book series is a laptop that can transform into a tablet on demand by detaching the screen from the keyboard. With four modes of operation, it's designed to strike a balance between office work, creative work and play. This second generation is powered by 8th Gen Intel Core processors, and the hinge connector has been rejigged to make that transition faster.
The Surface Book 2 line includes a range of models kitted out for different purposes. At the low end is a work-focused laptop with a 13.5-in screen, 256 GB of storage space, 8 GB of RAM and an Intel HD Graphic 620 GPU.
In the middle sit several models with the same 13.5-in screen, powered by quad-core Intel i7 processors. The other innards are left up to the user: Storage space options include 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB, RAM comes in either 8 GB or 16 GB and the 2 GB GDDR5 GPUs come in either GeForce GTX 1050 or 1060 flavors.
Sitting atop the pile, Microsoft has added new gaming-focused variants sporting 15-in screens and loaded with more graphical grunt courtesy of Nvidia. These are powered by GeForce GTX 1060 graphics cards with 6 GB of GDDR5 memory, and a beastly 16 GB of RAM. These high-end Surface Books should make short work of Microsoft's new VR system, Windows Mixed Reality, and they're also compatible with Xbox One controllers for more traditional gaming.
All Surface Books 2 models feature USB 3, USB-C and SD card slots, 1080p touchscreens, and are designed to be light and portable: those with 13-in screens weigh 3.4 lb (1.5 kg) while the 15-in model tips the scales at 4.2 lb (1.9 kg). Battery life is reported to be up to 17 hours, although judging by our time with the first-generation Surface Book, we'd expect that to only be the case with the keyboard attached.
Microsoft is taking preorders for the Surface Book 2 starting November 9, and the laptops will be available one week later. Prices range from US$1,499 up to an eye-watering $3,299.